Irrational Fears…Named

“I suffer from peroxide phobia. Every time I’ve gotten near a blonde woman, something of mine has disappeared. Jobs, boyfriends,… one time an angora sweater leaped right off my body.” ~ Rita Rudner

I’m taking a break. I’ve earned it. 140+ posts into this blog and even I believe a little change-up is in order. I trust you’ll indulge me. 🙂

Did you ever attempt to research something and find not a single, credible source in agreement or several that provide consistently, accurate information? I have a phobia. And it has nothing to do with Halloween looming. But I’ve always been curious about it and decided to learn more about its symptoms, causes and treatments. So I embarked on a (time limited) study of phobias. Here’s a glimpse of what I found.

A phobia is an overwhelming and unreasonable fear of an object or situation that poses little real danger. Unlike the brief anxiety most people feel when they give a speech or take a test, a phobia is long-lasting, causes intense physical and psychological reactions, and can affect your ability to function normally at work or in social settings.

No matter what type of phobia you have, it’s likely to produce the following reactions:

  • A feeling of uncontrollable anxiety when you’re exposed to the source of your fear – sitting on an airplane, for instance, or walking into a large party
  • The feeling that you must do everything possible to avoid what you fear
  • The inability to function normally because of your anxiety
  • Often, the knowledge that your fears are unreasonable or exaggerated, but feeling powerless to control them
  • In some cases, anxiety just thinking about what you fear
  • In children, possibly tantrums, clinging, or crying

An unreasonable fear can be an annoyance but it isn’t considered a phobia unless it seriously disrupts your life. If it does, it is recommended that one seek medical or psychological treatment. Most people can be helped with the right therapy.

Much is still unknown about the actual causes of phobias. There does appear to be a link between your own phobias and the phobias of your parents. Children may learn phobias by observing a family member’s phobic reaction to an object or a situation. Brain chemicals, genetics, and traumatic experiences also appear to influence the development of phobias.

Where the inconsistency presented in my ‘investigation’ was in ranking the most common, Western culture phobias. Each source I read had a different “top ten.” Rather than scientifically weigh or order them, I’ll simply share a partial collection. For those who must know, yes – spiders, snakes and heights often topped many lists.

The Better Known

  • Ophidiophobia – snakes
  • Arachnophobia – spiders
  • Agoraphobia – open spaces where escape might be difficult
  • Claustrophobia – closed or constricting spaces or situations
  • Acrophobia – heights
  • Astraphobia – thunder and lightning
  • Aviophobia – airplanes and flying
  • Cynophobia – dogs
  • Odontophobia – dentists

The Lesser Recognized

  • Coulrophobia – clowns
  • Nosophobia – having a disease (think: hypochondria)
  • Atychiphobia – failure
  • Trypanophobia – injecting or needles
  • Mysophobia – dirt or germs
  • Pyrophobia – fire
  • Taphophobia – being buried alive
  • Thanatophobia – death

There are more than 50 phobias recognized by the National Institute of Mental Health. And as expected in today’s digital world, Nomophobia  – losing one’s cell phone or cellular reception, is becoming more pronounced. Further evidence that phobia’s are irrational fears, even mine!

14 thoughts on “Irrational Fears…Named

  1. I have had claustrophobia for as long as I can remember. I remember a time in my life it was extremely hard to live with. A friend suggested I discuss it with my primary care physician which turned out to be excellent advice. I learned how to deal with it. Excellent Blog.

  2. Eric – take your well deserved break and enjoy it. We (your followers) will wait! It’s a brave thing to take a break from a blog – I’ve discovered. I’ve done 116 stories in a row every day. I’m going to be inspired by your “bravery” – soon I hope. Thanks for your ability to take the bull by the horns. I’ll always be a fan (unless you become idiotic of course!) relax… enjoy…

    • So much for my “bravery.” 🙂 Though I am going to slow the rate at which I’ve been posting. I have other equally important irons in the fire that seek my limited time. While I enjoy blogging and love even more the feedback from this appreciative community, I have a two books that are begging to be written and a new radio show that requires ample prep work. Thanks for being a fan, Bruce. You know I am of your story writing!

  3. Great post, Eric. My phobias include heights, death, and bothering other people. Coincidentally, my fear of heights came up today during a conversation at brunch, and a young lady there was very convincing about the positive effects of jumping out of a plane (with a parachute, of course). I am seriously considering doing that.

  4. I wish I could say I don’t have any phobias but after reading your description, I totally do– I have this weird phobia that I’m going to miss my chance to use the restroom (possibly because I’ve done a lot of international traveling? who knows?) So I will seriously skip off to the restroom at the first realization I might need it and I NEVER go anywhere (even like a starbucks run at work) without a stop by the ladies room because who knows… a natural disaster might occur and I will have missed my chance.

    Sorry to come troll you blog with bathroom topics. It just sort of happened.

    • I think there are even more weird phobias ‘out there.’ No need to apologize for stopping in. You’re quite welcome, Aussa, as was/is your sharing with those who read and comment on this blog. 🙂 In fact, I’m glad it happened — your unanticipated arrival — not your natural disaster fear.

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